How to Get Kids to Try New Foods

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If you are like me you are constantly figuring out how to get kids to try new foods. Trying something new isn’t always exciting and is often intimidating to a child. It can take a child 12 times or more of trying a new food before they decide they like it plus their pallets are changing all the time. It can be frustrating and sometimes a bit concerning when you see your child sit there and refuse to eat because they all of a sudden don’t like the dish that was their absolute favorite the week before.

Children go through phases of getting excited about food, or completely refusing everything. Is it just me or does it seem like there isn’t really a middle? It is getting warmer outside and (I don’t know if this is scientifically true) my children always seem to slow their eating and crave more watery foods. Tell me I’m not the only one that this has been your experience because every year it seems to catch me off guard!

My 4 year old’s preschool was having a cute little class about healthy eating. They made this little tomatoes to get the kids excited about being able to choose and try their own new foods. Your child cuts out or draws different foods they would like to try and when they try it, their picture goes in the tomato. I thought it was a great idea that could work for any age as long as they are able to make their own decisions (about age 3).

2 Paper Plates – Cut one in half

how to get kids to try new foods - paper plates

First take 2 paper plates, they can be any size, cheap or not. Cut one in half. If your child can cut with scissors you can let them do this part. It doesn’t have to be perfect, just fun! The more involved they are with this simple project the better!

Color the Plates

Next color the paper plates with a red crayon (or marker or paint or whatever). Let your child do this part. They may get tired and ask you to take over. I colored the half paper plate because my daughter’s “arm was tired” and she had to take a break.

You may want to flip over the half plate and color the back. We did not do this but I think it would be able to hold the pictures better if there was a little more space in the pocket.

how to get kids to try new foods - coloring plate

Take a separate piece of scrap paper, cut a stem for your tomato and color it green. My daughter decided the tomato needed to be green as well. Please don’t mind our red/green tomato; we were going for a less-ripe style hehe!

how to get kids to try new foods - paper plates done coloring

Place the Half Plate onto the Whole Plate

how to get kids to try new foods - tomato finished

This is where you will see our half plate should be flipped so that front sides are touching, the pocket will be bigger and easier for a child to put things in. We stapled ours and it worked really well but you can use glue, tape, or whatever to secure the half paper plate onto the whole one. You have your pocket now. Stick the stem on top and your tomato is complete!

how to get kids to try new foods - stem and done

Find NEW Foods

Now that you have a pocket have your child choose foods they would like to try from those ads you get in the mail from grocery stores. You can also have them draw what they would like or for older kids you could have them choose a recipe they would like to make this week. When they try the food they get to put the picture in the tomato.

Find a way to celebrate their accomplishment of trying the food. For older kids keep it interesting. Make a deal with them; if they have 7 (or 5 or 10 or whatever you feel is appropriate) new pictures in their pocket, then you will …

Here are some ideas:

  • Clean their bathroom
  • Give them extra screen time
  • Enjoy a special date with them to their favorite park.
  • Let them choose Sunday night’s dinner AND dessert

Again for the older kids do something different so they stay excited. Have them make their own recipe. There are plenty of recipes a tween or teen could do with little to no help from you.

Don’t pay your child for eating. Psychologically I don’t think that is good for them. For younger ones maybe they can get a sticker and put it on their tomato when they put their new food in the pocket. Keep the younger one’s reward separate from food so they do not over-eat or develop an unhealthy relationship with food.

Notes for YOU

  • Take them to the store with you especially when they are young. Seeing the foods will help them get more excited and they could surprise you at what they choose. (mine chose radishes once because Peter Rabbit loves radishes. I wouldn’t have ever chosen radishes in a million years!)
  • Remember that if they try it, they get to put the picture in the pocket. That’s it, it’s really that simple.
  • You should never make your child eat a whole serving or negotiate with them
  • Their pallets are developing
  • The whole point is to get them excited about food
  • The more excited and encouraging you are, the better their relationship with food will be as they grow
  • If they want to “try” carrots for the 3rd time this week, let them put the picture in the pocket! It’s GOOD they want to “try” carrots again!!
  • Don’t lose sight and get into rules and regulations
  • Remember 12 TIMES!

Last little note. Don’t overwhelm yourself! I have done it before where I feel like I am going to make 7 new meals this week and I only get to 3. Keep it uncomplicated and realistic and get creative! If you stress, you won’t do this next week and the kids will lose their enthusiasm for this thing you are trying to accomplish WITH them.

This is one of our creations:

It’s not fancy and she has tried each of these things before but SHE created it and I was very proud of her creativity and the fact that she made and ate it herself.

How to Get Kids to try new foods - pb j and gold fish sandwich

How to Get Kids to try new foods - pb j and gold fish K

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